All seems to be not well at the island’s Parliament at Mt Wheldale overlooking the Grenadian capital.
Informed sources told THE NEW TODAY that relations are rather strained between the current Clerk of Parliament, Andrew Augustine and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Leo Cato.
According to one source, Augustine has been telling close aides that he believes Cato is making moves to have him replaced as the two seemingly cannot see eye-to-eye on several issues at Parliament.
He identified one of the contentious issues as an alleged insistence by Cato that the staffers should start wearing uniform at work but Augustine is insisting that the Speaker has no authority or jurisdiction over public officers as that lies within the domain of the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The following was sent via Whatsapp by THE NEW TODAY to Augustine: “We are getting reports of tension between you and the Speaker in Parliament and that moves might be afoot to remove you from the position.”
The Clerk did not deny the report of friction with Cato but said it “might be speculative.”
However, he quoted Section 84(8) of the Constitution Order which “is clear that any public officer is subject to removal and documents the process” and that “the Clerk must satisfy the Presiding Officers, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in his professional responsibilities.”
“On the assumption that the moves you mentioned (his removal from Parliament) may be credible, since there cannot be a sitting Clerk and an Acting Clerk at the same time…I guess it may be a contemplation of my retirement…However you are a boss at what you do,” he added.
House Speaker Cato did not respond to the message sent to him: “We are getting reports of tension between you and the Clerk of Parliament and that you are making moves for him to be replaced.”
The source claimed that the Augustine/Cato conflict might also be linked to the relationship that the two had as members of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) where Cato served as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
“Augustine was a delegate in the GCNA thing and he used to give him (Cato) a lot of fire on the board so he is moving to have Augustine removed,” said the insider, who added, “They always have their little ding-dong.”
The source is also quoted as saying that Cato is trying to make fundamental changes in Parliament with workers who are also accusing him of trying to take over as their boss from the Clerk of Parliament.
“They are telling him (Cato) that he cannot be the boss of public servants,” he remarked.
THE NEW TODAY was told that Speaker Cato favours the replacement of Augustine on the grounds that the Clerk has a hearing issue, wears a hearing aid and that the island’s Parliament might not be the best place for him.
In addition, Cato is also accused of trying to give instructions for the job appraisal of workers which falls under the jurisdiction of the Clerk of Parliament.
“Augustine is the public servant, Cato is just the (Speaker of the House),” he remarked, adding that some employees in Parliament have “serious problems with him (Cato)” and that staffers have been told to go to their union as the Speaker “cannot instruct them.”
“Cato is not a public servant to come and dictate to public servants what to do,” he said.
The insider pointed out that another issue that is creating problems within the confines of Parliament is the fact that some persons have been given allowances including Travel by the State but still want to use the vehicle of Parliament.
He identified President of the Senate Dessima Williams as one of the persons who is violating the Travelling Allowance policy of “either you pay a driver or you come with your vehicle and you drive yourself… but she wants to use Parliament vehicle and keep her travelling.”
When contacted, former Ambassador Williams denied that she was getting any travelling allowance from the government as part of the arrangements worked out to perform her State job.